The food media spotlight seems to shine briefest on the genre I'll call "grilling cookbooks," for lack of a better designator. Top 10 lists delivered at year's end rarely include a title from the annual summer batch, although enough of us grill year-round to warrant sustained interest.

I can understand why the sell is restrictive. Grilling cookbooks must spend considerable real estate laying out basics you either already know or aren't motivated to learn (i.e., you don't own a grill of your own): gas vs. charcoal, the outlay for equipment, which woods are best for smoking certain foods, how to start a fire and how to clean up after. Cooking temperatures vary almost from author to author. Recipe boxes must be checked - the burger, the bbq'ed bird, the ribs. And oh, the slaws.

Anything new to report? For that matter do we want new, or just improved? I'm saying yes to both, because the stack of 2019 titles on my desk is decidedly taller, broader in scope and more satisfyingly niche-y and nerdy than in seasons past. We're being treated to stories of new pitmasters and the preparations that put them on the map (hello, Hot Pulled Oyster Mushrooms!). We can geek out on cold and hot smoking, with diagrams for DIY backyard pits. Heritage techniques are revamped for modern times. We can peruse recipes that are fuel-specific.

From that stack on my desk, I've pulled eight recipes that promise to enhance your summer eating. Yes sir, things are lookin' up in this part of the cooking universe.

Recommended for you

Load comments